Quick career tips: Standing out during student job interviews

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Show Notes

We are adding a series of a new type of episode on the PH SPOTlight podcast, titled QUICK CAREER TIPS. These episodes will be short, typically ranging between 5-10 minutes and will spotlight a tip for public health professionals.

Today’s career tip spotlight is on student job interviews and how to stand out during these sessions.

Recently, Sujani has been chatting with many students and new graduates about finding summer jobs, and while reflecting on these conversations she realized that there were students who really stood out more than others. She realized that the main thing that they did really well was that they were super confident and articulated well what they wanted from the experience, even if they still hadn’t figured out the specific direction of their public health career just yet. In this episode, she shares three tips to achieve this.


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Episode Transcript

Sujani 0:02
Welcome to PH SPOTlight, a community for you to build your public health career with. Join Us Weekly right here. And I’ll be here too, your host Sujani Siva from PH SPOT.

Sujani 0:14
Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining me today on another episode of PH SPOTlight, a space for you and me and everyone else in public health to share our stories and inspire each other. My name is Sujani Siva, I am the host of PH SPOTlight, and I’m here to help you build your public health career. So typically, on this podcast, we do long style interview type episodes. And recently, I’ve decided to add another series to this podcast that I’m going to title, Quick Career tips. And these episodes, they’re going to be short, typically ranging between five to 10 minutes, and they’re going to spotlight a tip for public health professionals. And so today’s career tips spotlight to kick off the series is on student job interviews, and how to stand out during these sessions. So recently, I have been chatting with many students and new graduates about finding summer jobs. And I’ve been reflecting on these conversations, because I realized that there were students who really stood out more than others for me. And I started to think about why that was. And when I thought about these students, I realized that the main thing that they did really well was that they were super confident. And they articulated well, what they wanted from the experience that they were looking for, even if they still hadn’t figured out the specific direction of their public health career just yet. So what I’m saying is, it’s okay that you may not have figured out what your life’s passion is within public health, or what your dream job is. But when you do go for an interview for that summer job, or even your practicum, you need to stand out as a student applicant. And so here are some tips that I’ve gathered so that you can achieve this.

Sujani 2:17
Number one, know what you want. For the specific phase of career you are currently in. What is it that you want from this specific experience? What is that goal you’re looking to achieve? It doesn’t have to be something so huge, like finding the cure for cancer or reducing COVID-19 spread. Rather, it could be that you want to know how government departments engage with different stakeholders and partners. Or that you want to learn the different types of databases used in that organization so that you can improve your data analysis skills, or you want to learn a new tool or a skill that you know, that department probably uses. And so from my perspective, when I hear something like this, I have a clear direction for a student, and what type of experience to give them over the summer, for example. And hiring managers are looking to ensure that students have a meaningful experience. So when you can help them out by laying out your specific goal, you’re going to stand out. Okay, so that was number one. Number two is know what the team within the organization you’re interviewing for, is working on. And make sure that the goal you outlined, the number one fits within the work that they’re doing. So if we take the database example, again, make sure that the team you’re working with actually works with data, it wouldn’t make sense to ask a team or organization for data analysis experience, if all they do is communication work. So ensure that you’re aligning your goals to the team that you’re interviewing for. Again, this will make the hiring manager’s job easier, and it’s going to make you stand out. And finally, number three, when you have number one, and number two down, learn how to communicate this at your interview by being clear and confident. And as a bonus, if you can give the hiring manager tangible examples. It will also be helpful. What I mean by that is saying I would like to help your team develop communication materials to target your population interest is a lot better than saying I’ll do whatever you want me too. Or I’m flexible and I can do anything. Although having students who are flexible and adaptable to changing work environments, is often really good. It’s also really good and important to articulate what you’re hoping to gain from the experience specifically. And then also add that you’re willing to support additional tasks. Instead of coming off as someone who hasn’t really figured things out, it’s a lot better to be more confident, and voice and articulate your goals clearly to your hiring manager. So, that brings us to the end of this Quick Career Tip episode. And I hope you enjoy that first episode, and that you’ll use these three tips at your next interview.

Sujani 5:36
And before you leave, I wanted to let you know that PH SPOT has some great products for students and early and established public health professionals on our website. So make sure to check those out at pHspot.ca. And if you want to see any notes from today’s episode, you can check that out at pHspot.ca/podcast. And one more thing before you go if you’re listening to this podcast on Apple podcast, Google or Spotify or somewhere else that you listen to podcast, please do leave us a review so that other public health professionals know what to expect and also for us to know how you’re enjoying these episodes. So until next time, thank you so much for tuning in to PH SPOTlight.


About the Show

PH SPOTlight: Public health career stories, inspiration, and guidance from current-day public health heroes

On the show, Sujani sits down with public health heroes of our time to share career stories, inspiration, and guidance for building public health careers. From time to time, she also has conversations with friends of public health – individuals who are not public health professionals, but their advice and guidance are equally important.

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